Frank Li is a high school senior living in Southern California. Frank’s parents emigrated from Korea, and have pretty much one big rule for Frank – he must only date Korean girls.
But he’s got strong feelings for a girl in his class, Brit – and she’s not Korean. His friend Joy Song is in the same boat and knows her parents will never accept her Chinese American boyfriend, so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom.
Frank thinks fake-dating is the perfect plan, but it leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love – or himself – at all.
Frankly, I loved this book. I was so unsure about it in the first couple of chapters and I thought it was going to be slow going, but I ended up flying through it once I got used to the tone. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it really did take a few chapters to get used to the narrative. Yoon has a unique tone I haven’t really seen before in YA – it feels like a specific dialect.
I love books that explore cultural identity well – and this book seemed to do it well. The tension between Frank Li and his parents was tangible, and even though I didn’t like them very much because of their obvious racism, I ended up feeling a softness and love towards them which I’m sure was mirrored by Frank’s own feelings.
If you have the will to do something, and you keep at it, and you don’t give up, you can do anything.
One of my favourite parts of this book was the side characters. Frank’s friend Q was just awesome, and I really enjoyed reading about his classmates and classes, especially his teacher Mr Soft. I won’t lie – Frank wasn’t great sometimes and he did annoy me in a few places, but overall I was pretty sympathetic towards him.
Something that majorly shocked me about this book was it made me laugh out loud. It’s so hard to pinpoint books that actually make me chuckle, but this one did. It stood out for it’s silly sense of humor, some of which annoyed me, but most I loved.
And there’s no greater will than the will to love who you want.
Overall, what a great read. It wasn’t perfect, and the ending made me have tears in my eyes but left me with hope. I’m glad Frank didn’t push me over the edge as he very easily could have, and I’m glad the racism was written tastefully, as it could have become problematic. A really enjoyable read!
4 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽